Episode 13: Should I Pet Sit for an Out of Control Dog?

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In this episode of “Bella In Your Business”, Bella discusses whether you should agree to pet sit for an out of control dog.  The discussion is based on a post from the discussion pages of her private Facebook group found at https://www.facebook.com/groups/jumpersnetwork/.

The writer of the post said that she had a “Meet and Greet” the previous night with an “out of control dog.” She said the dog was jumping on her and very unruly. It was putting its paws on her shoulders and its parents just seemed to dismiss the behavior.

out of control dog

Bella says that you as a pet sitter need to recognize that this situation could be a potential liability. First, for you individually, because this dog could cause you to injure yourself (like twisting your ankle) and that could result in your inability to serve your other clients. Doing so could even cost you your business.

This situation could also be a danger to your employees. If one of them gets injured not only is it a loss of a dependable member of your team, but it could open you up to liability.

Bella reminds you that as a pet sitter, it is not your job to train the dog and break bad habits.  In that type of situation, it may often be best to politely decline working with that dog. If you have a trainer you have a relationship with, use the opportunity to give a referral.

Bella also suggests that you ideally decline the job via email. This gives the parents a chance to absorb and digest your reasonings.  Those reasonings should include honesty about your concerns and how you feel you are not the best fit to serve that dog’s particular needs.

You can find more great information from Bella, additional podcast episodes, and  Bella’s blog at http://jumpconsulting.net/.

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Episode 12: Non-Owned Auto Liability Insurance

In this episode of “Bella In Your Business”, we are joined once again by David Pearsall, Vice President at Business Insurers of the Carolinas, which specializes in commercial insurance, including businesses providing pet services. David joins Bella for the second of many episodes dealing with insurance for those in the pet sitting industry. This episode focuses on Non-owned Car Insurance Coverage.

To start with, Bella asks what happens if she has an employee driving his/her own vehicle while doing pet sits and they get into an accident. David starts off by defining Non-Owned Auto Liability insurance. He says it’s usually a specialty endorsement to either a Business Owner’s Policy (BOP) or a Commercial Auto Insurance Policy. Non-Owned Auto Liability policies cover any vehicle not owned by the business owner, but rather owned by the owner’s employees or other individuals who are using it in the course of business.

In Bella’s hypothetical situation, David points out that if the employee is sued as a result of the accident, the employee’s liability insurance will be the one initially used to provide for the plaintiff if the employee is found liable. But, if it is discovered that the employee was on business at the time of the accident, the plaintiff can also sue the business. This is where Non-Owned Auto Liability insurance can help.

David points out that these policies generally only cover employees and not independent contractors. He stresses that this is “excess” insurance and that in almost all cases the employee’s liability is considered “primary”. So this policy will not keep employees from being found liable or their insurance responsible. These would pay in excess of the employee’s insurance, which often has fairly low limits (often around $100,000).

Bella asks if there are different options and generally what are the limits they pay. David says there a couple of options but generally the limit is around $1 million.

According to David there are two ways to purchase Non-Owned Auto Liability insurance. The first, and preferred way, is to buy it through a Commercial Auto Policy. He points out that if you as a business owner have a vehicle in which you have stickers or logos or the name of your business on it, and your business is your primary source of income, you really should have a commercial auto policy anyway as personal auto policies aren’t really designed for that. And, you cannot add a Non-Owned Auto Liability endorsement to your personal liability insurance.

So Bella asks if a pet sitter has a magnet on their car have they just opened up their business to liability. David says that they have even without the magnet or sticker. If they are using the auto routinely for business, they really should have a commercial auto policy.

The second way to get a Non-Owned Auto Liability endorsement is through a Business Owner’s Policy (BOP). It is often available through one of the many options offered when you purchase a BOP.

Bella asks if this is similar to an umbrella policy. David says this is different. An umbrella policy goes over all of your other policies and gives excess coverage. Umbrellas are really for large claims and again, in addition to other existing policies. They then spend some time discussing the confusion around umbrella policies including how they don’t really cover special events either.

Bella then hits David with listener questions.The first question is from a listener who asks that if she wants Non-Owned Auto Liability insurance from David’s company, why does she have to change her personal liability insurance to his company as well.

David’s response is that they offer Association liability policies. But, that they also offer Business Owner’s Policies. So, she would not have to switch her personal liability insurance to get Non-Owned Auto Liability insurance if she did so through a BOP.  According to David, it all depends on what you are looking to cover in your business.

Bella asks a second listener question. The listener says she was told she should have Professional Liability insurance to cover things her General Liability will not. She found that Professional Liability from another company includes Non-Owned Auto Liability insurance, so why would she have to get Commercial Auto insurance from BIC (David’s company) when she can purchase that policy separately through others.

David explains that in his experience he has seen a great number of claims that ultimately are not covered under a Business Owner’s Policy, particularly if you are using independent contractors. Whereas the Association’s policy has it endorsed to automatically pick up independent contractors. It also covers many liability exposures that typical Professional Liability policies will not.

David explains that you cannot add Non-Owned Auto Liability insurance directly to an Association policy. So some clients buy both the Association policy and a Business Owner’s Policy to which they can add the Non-Owned Auto Liability insurance. Other’s buy the Association policy and a separate Commercial Auto policy to which to add the Non-Owned Auto Liability insurance.

David maintains that a Business Owner’s Policy may be a good fit for some and that there are a host of other policies you may need to think about like Employment Practices Liability insurance and Cyber Liability. So you need to talk to an agent and make sure you uncover what all your exposures are to find the best fit.

The third listener question asked whether discounts are offered on these specialty policies through the PSI Association. David says they are unable to offer discounts on these because many are offered by third-party insurance companies who do not offer discounts to the association.

In summary, Bella asserts, and David agrees, that if you have employees driving personal vehicles in the course of business, you need Non-Owned Auto Liability insurance. But, as always, have a long talk with David, one of his staff, or your own insurance agent to find the best policies for your exposures.

If you would like to contact David, he can be reached at 1-800-962-4611, ext. 214 or at an email address which is mentioned in the podcast.

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Episode 11: How To Do A #PetSitting Background Check Without Getting Sued

HOW TO DO A BACKGROUND CHECK WITHOUT GETTING SUED
In this episode of “Bella In Your Business”, Bella is joined by Jason Waggoner, Vice President of Acutraq Background Screening. They discuss background checks and how important it is to get the right kind of background check when hiring an employee.

Jason starts off by explaining background checks and why using the quick, inexpensive background checks are ineffective. He emphasizes that these are good tools and a nice place to start but not reliable enough to base your decisions on, as affecting a person’s well being (by hiring or not hiring someone) based on inaccurate information can lead to costly lawsuits.

Jason explains how good professional background check companies like his follow up on hits from “multi-state” databases with checks in the local county for that given hit. This ensures that you have the most up-to-date record from the most accurate source.

Jason also covers the background check application you give to potential employees.  There are strict Federal guidelines (via the Federal Credit Reporting Act) on how that information is presented and what information must be included to ensure that applicants know exactly what they are agreeing to and how it will be used.  He cautions that failure to do so can be costly as some lawyers have been known to search websites, find non-compliant applications, and attempt to organize class-action suits against the company.

If you would like to contact Jason at Acutraq, he can be reached at 281-727-0019 or at an email address which is mentioned in the podcast.

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Common Claims

Episode 10: Top 15 Most Common Pet Sitting Insurance Claims

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In this episode of “Bella In Your Business”, we are joined by David Pearsall, Vice President at Business Insurers of the Carolinas, which specializes in commercial insurance, including businesses providing pet services.  David joins Bella for the first of what will be many episodes dealing with insurance for those in the pet sitting industry. This episode focuses on the the 15 most common pet sitting insurance claims.

Bella asks the age old question of how to know when you should or should not put in a pet sitting insurance claim?


David discusses the factors insurance companies look at when deciding on writing or renewing your policy and how you can use those factors to make that call.  Though, he emphasizes that you should also keep in mind that what may appear to be a small claim may eventually turn out to be a big one.

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David kicks off the Top 15 by discussing the Top 5 most frequent pet sitting insurance claims (see below).  As part of it, he discusses the differences between Animal Care, Custody, and Control policies.

David also mentions that the contents of the client’s home are usually excluded from most general liability policies, but some policies, like the one offered by the association, may have endorsements covering that.

If you, your employee, or one of the animals in your care is attacked by a third-party animal, try to get the information about that animal’s owner.  More than likely, they will be liable for the incident. 

There sure are a lot of pet sitting insurance claims!

Then, David covers the

Top 5 most frequent third-party claims (also below).

He mentions how often people are injured when two dogs are fighting.  He stresses that you should NEVER try to get between two fighting dogs. It will more than likely end badly. He suggests using methods such as loud noises or water hoses to break it up.

Bites to children is big on the list as well. David recommends that you emphasize to your employees or independent contractors that it is their responsibility to keep other people, especially children, away from the dogs in their care as even the most well-tempered dog may bite if it is spooked or the child provokes it.

Another big claim on the list is property damage to clients’ homes.  David recommends sitters be cognizant of things like water faucets and running toilets.  He also suggests that sitters really know their cleaning supplies as there have been many claims related to sitters using a cleaner on a floor that ultimately ruins the finish.

David then talks about the Top 5 Workman’s Comp pet sitting insurance claims (also below).

He says the key thing is to get your employee taken care of and back to work as quickly as possible.   David says that if you or your employee has an accident or is injured, call the workman’s comp insurer as soon as possible!  The sooner they are involved the better your overall outcome is likely to be. He also suggests that you should have a relationship with a clinic where you send employees with non-life threatening emergencies as they are much less expensive and patients are often seen much more quickly there than in a hospital  emergency room.

Here the Top 5 lists:

Top 5 Pet Related Claims

  1. Ingesting  something foreign. (Example: medicine, toys)
  2. Dog bitten by another dog owned by third party
  3. Dog bitten by another dog in the sitter’s care
  4. Scratches and injuries (to animal) due to running into or stepping on things.
  5. Pet damages to the contents of homes.

Top 5 Third-Party Claims

  1. Dog in a sitter’s care attacks or bites another dog
  2. Dog bites a person (other than you or your employee)
  3. Water damage. (Example: Sitter leaving the water on in a client’s home)
  4. Dog runs into or undercuts a person (other than you or your employee)
  5. Damages to the client’s home. (Example: Sitter causes a fire in a client’s home)

Top 5 Workman’s Comp Claims

  1. Dog or cat bite to hands or arms
  2. Slips, trips, and falls
  3. Slips and falls on stairs
  4. Dog bites to other body parts
  5. Dogs at play..odd injuries. (Example:  Dog jumps up and knocks out a sitter’s tooth)

Here is David’s contact information:
David Pearsall, CIC, CWCA
Business Insurers of the Carolinas
PO Box 2536, Chapel Hill, NC 27515
1-800-962-4611 x214
dp@Business-Insurers.com

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Episode 9: What A Lawyer Told A Pet Sitter About Her ICs

Beth Green from Paws Pet Care in Louisville KY shares with us her lawyers interpretation of her pet sitting business with Independent Contractors. Listen in as she shares with Bella about the flow of the money, the suggested guidelines, the question about which is the right way to go.

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This episode is great for those pet sitters who have Independent Contractors. Beth is an incredible role model who demonstrates all the proper care and thought that it takes to run the business the correct way. I applaud her self reflection to constantly be checking if her business lines up to her personal needs and desires. I admire the way Beth doesn’t just follow the masses and really investigates the law, the risk, and the control in which she desires in her business.

Listen in to these bullet points:

In June, the Feds came out that they are putting more money in the budget to audits. Beth wanted to get confirmation from her lawyer that she was still doing everything right. What I loved about what she did was that she sent her lawyer EVERYTHING she had. She paid a retainer. Beth’s lawyer took 4 weeks to review Beth’s info and research the industry!

This is such a huge point because she didn’t run in for a “free consultation” and tried to jam everything into 30 or 60 minutes.

Link to the audits. http://jumpconsulting.net/2014/05/12/recap-learned-pet-sitting-audit-case-studies/

Your decision to have IC’s will depend on your comfort level of risk. How much risk do you want to take? Beth’s lawyer wrote this in her three page recap she got in return of her research. 

We talk about operations. How the assignments are accepted flows. Contractors decide when they work.

A very good point here is showing that those who like to TELL people when to work, shouldn’t have ICs. 

Beth talks about the GPS feature and if she uses it or not.  

We discussed what supplies supplies she could supply.

We talked about how she uses her CMS, Leashtime, to assists in ICs 

“Do not buy your contracts online” -Beth

We talk about one thing that businesses shouldn’t have on their ICs contracts

There is just so much great information in this podcast and well worth your listen.

If you listen to this and decide that it is time to switch from ICs to Employees, check out the industries largest resource on employees. Learn about the pricing structure, employee manuals, interviewing, hiring, and becoming a manger. 

Employee’s are the easier way to go. -Beth

The very last major point that we talked about was workmans compensation. Her lawyer says workmans compensation would be great to have for her ICs. It was because of our industry and bites happen. So then she went to her insurance broker and he told her NO. He suggested she goes to the State and check with the NCCI to get the document for them to exempt themselves. It can’t be copied, etc. It was a really important point. Here is the answer that I mentioned that my insurance broker wrote about businesses having workmans compensation on independent contractors.

All in all, I think they biggest take away from this interview is that a business owner MUST do their homework. They MUST have a team of professionals around them that they can have open and honest discussions.

I would like to thank Beth for being so open and honest with us as she didn’t have to. I just respect her so much. Also, I think it is worthy to mention that Beth’s heart and care for her community is so big that she has created My Dog Eats First. I HIGHLY suggest taking a look into this organization.

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Episode 8: How To Break Through From A $40K to $100K Pet Sitting Business.

BELLA IN YOUR BUSINESS

 

 

 

Matt asks the question:

Hi Bella, I guess [my question]  would be some actionable best practices for breaking thru that wall in business. IE. Going from a 40,000 pet sitting business to a 100,000 + business.

Without further ado, here is your answer all laid out:

 

 

 

Your Pet Sitting Business Is Like A Car Engine

You have to think of a car with an engine. In order to get up to those higher speeds the engine needs to be efficient. The way a business works when making 40K typically isn’t going to be the same way when it is making 100K

In Order To Have a Breakthrough, You Must Control Areas Of Your Business So It Doesn’t Controlpet sitting business You.

Control is a big part of it. It rarely every happens just because. You have to be intentional about it. You have to control every
aspect of your business and make decisions that line up with your 100K goal. Each decision that comes into your business you have to ask yourself, “Will this help me get closer or further away from it?”
Here are some areas where you can control the outcome and put in place systems that will help you achieve the system that it takes to take it to a six figure business.
As a warning, I want to say that the biggest difference between a 40K business and 100K business is that the more volume that comes in, the less of EVERYTHING a business owner can do. They can’t possibly do it all anymore because there is too much to do. Those that attempt end up being burnt out of not good at a lot because they are stretched too thin. This, is where creating systems comes into play and learning how to control them. Here are areas that you can control and create systems for:
Control the marketing.
Control the leads and sales process
Control the follow up.
Control the sitters schedules
Control the quality
Learn to delegate more. small and big tasks. website, graphics, social media,
It is like that car that is coasting along the freeway. You can let your foot off the gas. Someone else can take the steering wheel.

3 Ways To Listen!

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Episode 7: Get your Pet Sitting Business to 7 Figures By Renewing Your Vows!

bella in your business

 

Joette White

From time to time, I come across people that just inspire me. Joette White of Park Cities Pet Sitter Inc has been one of them and I just had to interview her for the show. It was about two months ago we first connected on this and I am finally able to bring it to you today. In this 30 min interview you will learn a lot about your pet sitting business. I know I did! Although, not only will you learn, I am betting you will be inspired too. Here are some of the things you will hear about in this short 30 min interview:

  • Everything has a season. The ups and downs of the natural business cycle.
  • Renewing your business vows. How a recommitment is always necessary.
  • All about the audit that was appealed twice. You won’t believe the ludicrous things that the auditor tried to get Joette’s company for!
  • I bet you won’t guess how many staff it takes Joette to run a seven figure business! You will be shocked.

 

3 Ways To Listen!

 

If you would like to contact Joette, she requests that you email her at Joette at pcpsi.com  You can view her website at http://www.pcpsi.com I would like to publicly THANK Joette for her time with me and for donating so much of her time to help promote and better our industry. She is a true advocate and role model!

 

 

 

 

 

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Episode 6: How To Deal With Negative Reviews

 

 

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Ever see Jimmy Fallon do his “Mean Tweet” segment? This is what I want you to think of when you listen to Ep 6 of Bella In Your Business.

There is so much negativity going on out there with pet sitters getting upset because someone wrote a negative review, told them their service was too much, said something “mean” to them, or just got their feelings hurt. I am here today to encourage you to be a DUCK and let it roll off your back.

Seriously! What you let into your head becomes your reality. It helps feed the stinkin’ thinkin’ and I want to show you that no business ever failed because someone said something mean. We all will get negative reviews at some point in time.

I even read what has been said about ME! Yes, me. Nothing online is private…. there are screen shots for everything. 🙁

 

bella in your businessHere are some of the show notes for you to follow along:

 

“It always has been your way or the highway Bella and you proved my point splendidly.”

“Very rude. Woman that I believe is the owner is very obnoxious and self-centered. You have to put up with constantly “I’m the best. Everyone wants to be like me. I’m so great people would pay double for pet sitting to be with my company but I decline” does anyone actually believe that? It’s pretty disturbing!”

“I can’t believe she is a consultant, she was so nasty with me when I decided to try a session with her.”

“Bella = narcissist”

What To Do When It Happens:

  • Consider the source
  • How To React
  • Attitude and Reaction is everything
    • Attitude is everything blog
    • Seek Guidance From Those Who Do Love You.
    • Think About All Good Feedback.
    • Don’t let one negative comment ruin your whole day.
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bella in your business

Episode 5: Bella In Your Business: Motivation, Podcasting, and 4 Helpful Tips

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In this episode of Bella In Your Business:

The impact that podcasting and Shannon Hernandez has had on me and fellow pet sitters.
How to get your motivation back and your staff!

My 4 tips:
1. Evernote
2. MeetEdgar.com
3.
4.

*You have to listen to hear #3 and #4

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Episode 4: Employees, Blogs, & Daily Operations!

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Hi Jumpers!

In this podcast you will hear about how you can adapt your business to match your lifestyle. In this episode I answer the questions you submitted such as:

When you should hire on employees and who to get your clients to start using them.
How you can stay afloat and handle daily operations while working in the business.
How to get your blog to actually WORK for you. Including 8 tips on what to do after you post a blog!

It is jam packed and sure to keep you on your toes and your mind running.

URls mentioned:
www.facebook.com/bellainyourbusiness
www.facebook.com/jumpconsulting
Email me at danielle@jumpconsulting.net for links to Noelle

Don’t forget to post below and let me know what you thought and to ask your questions for upcoming podcasts! You might just hear your name being mentioned!

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